It's school culture festival time in Japan at the moment, so while the kids are busy turning their classrooms into haunted houses and mazes, there's less teaching for me. So, with some time to spare I spent the past 2 days translating songs by one of my favorite bands, FLOPPY.( Deus ex machinaCollapse )( PROTOSCIENCECollapse )
Reason 1) Japanese TV
Thank god for the BBC, and thank god for TV licensing. At least in Britain when you pay for watching TV you can see some results. In Japan, we have NHK knocking on our doors asking to pay similarly and that payment can be up to 2-man-en (20000 yen or £100) a year. And what do we get for our money? Lousy production and "graphics" only good for school educational videos.
Watch the news or a current affairs program in Japan and what you'll see is 4 or 5 people sat around desks arguing an issue as politely as possible and then we go over to the visual representation of the problem. This is a educated-looking man and a pretty young female assistant stood in front of a board with pieces of sticky tape over the important stuff. With a flourish the pair will rip off the tape and announce the shocking statistic beneath. Let me reiterate: a board, and sticky tape. How I long for Peter Snow's election night green-screen swingometer.
The majority of TV dramas are as bad. It's astonishing how much one can do with just a single camera (or so it seems) and, apart from the lead characters, all the actors seems to have gone to the School of Cringe-worthy Over-acting
However, they do have more charm than a British soap, and frankly nothing can be worse than one of those.
Reason 2) Cartoons...
...that are hurriedly created yet highly-addictive.
Remember Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? GI Joe? Biker Mice From Mars (a little bit later but still great)? Of course, they were awesome. You know how they don't seem to make cartoons like that anymore? Well... Anime.
Of course, many of the cartoons that we loved to watch as kids were from Japan. But they're still making them! Okay, moving on before this because a "Anime is far superior to anything. Ever." rant.
Reason 3) Where the men are women (or it that women are men?)
I've long been a huge fan of visual-kei and it's been a long time since I've been shocked to find that that woman is actually a very pretty man. But I was more shocked when I had a bit of a retro music crave a few weeks ago and I started looking at old 80s pop videos. I guess it wasn't exactly unbiased of me to start with David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust phase. Face caked with make-up and clothes that would make a drag queen blush. Boy George and Dead or Alive are just two of the plethora of examples of this 80s cross-dressing craze.
And yet, with their facial structure and stature, Japanese guys look so much better as women than us Europeans. (Damn them...)
But that brings us swiftly on to my last reason for today:
Reason 4) Over-synth/produced music
In Britain and the US, the retro-uprising is still only in its early stages, thanks a lot to Timbaland needing another ancient track to rip off of every week. (Dick.)
In the 80s there there was a tidal wave of synthesized music, which I like to think was rolled in motion by the Buggles and continued with a variety of one-hit wonders from Dead or Alive, A-Ha, and so on. That died eventually as the kids started looking for more gritty music and accidentally stumbled upon Britpop.
But in Japan, pop music retained this over-used of synthesizers. The problem for Japanese singers, as a friend of mine pointed out, is they can't reached the same vocal range as a Westerner. So, it seems, to compensate the producers add more than enough synthesized melody to the track. And frankly, I love it. Even in Japan, though, with the new hip-hop craze still strong, there is a resurgence of the new wave, and one day I think one of these chip-pop tracks will break into the mainstream. I'm hoping.
Last weekend I travelled to a city called Kofu (reminds me of the Greek island) in Yamanashi. Like my Sendai trip I travelled on the seishun 18 ticket. Unlike my Sendai trip, I went with my friend Hong Ee. Unfortunately, I got distracted from my journal and forgot to add to it from the first afternoon, but I will post anyway. ( and soCollapse )
I took a two-day trip to Sendai and back again using only local trains on a special ticket called the Seishun 18. I cut into my travels with visits to wonderful sights such as Fukuroda Falls, a huge, multi-level waterfall, and Matsushima, hundreds of small rocky pine tree-covered islands in a bay and one of the Three Sights of Japan. I spent almost 17 hours on trains or stuck in stations, so I wrote a travel journal because I want to be Michael Palin...( tl;drCollapse )
Urgh. It's only June and I wanna melt away. It's so damn hot and humid already. I hate it. I need a car with AC...
Well, this post is another Live Show update.( This time Porno Graffitti and MetronomeCollapse )
So, I'm a tech officer now. I've achieved a position of status on the Ibaraki JET council. Ooooooh!
A short while back an ex-JET appeared on the forums. He had an offer. He had a referral with Dreamhost offering a cheaper hosting package. Being someone who knew nothing about websites I naively assumed that swapping hosts is an easy task and took up his offer.
It is not an easy task.
I changed domain registry and moved the website to the new host.
For the past week I have been trying to fix everything.
Things don't just copy and paste so easily, especially forums. I had to extract everything from the old forum and install an entire new version then make the old data compatible.
Meanwhile the main website broke, and I'm still
trying to figure out where the coding for the frames went.
And the whole point of this venture was to resurrect a teaching database we call NATTO. So while I'm being pestered by other ALTs to get it back online, this database so fucking huge that I'm still extracting it from the old host bit-by-bit.
Oh, the joys of being a web administrator. I'm not even getting paid!
As if Dir en grey wasn't enough, a friend of mine manage to get free guest list entry to MAXIMUM THE HORMONE.
It was even at the same place as I saw Dir en grey, but this time I was down in the pit and this time I was dressed ready to rock. They opened their set and the crowd went mad, but the crazy moshing remained in the mosh pit in the middle, a little way from me and my mate. But then the second song was What's up, people?! and the whole place went fucking nuts. The whole room was a mosh pit, my glasses got knocked off as people bounced past me - recovered them undamaged thank god, put them in their case and joined in the fun :D
After an hour of madness, crowd-surfers and girls climbing onto dangerous ledges to dance, I dripping with sweat. I miss those days of mosh pits but geez I feel like an old man now.
It's unfortunate that many people (including myself) only post when they're bored. To post is to relieve boredom, but you are already in that frame of mind so your posts tend to be a bit melancholic. If only you suddenly, while in the middle of an amazing concert or something, decided to write a journal entry! Then, I guess, LiveJournal wouldn't have the reputation it has.
Some people do that though - I am not one of them. I'm not very good at thinking beyond what is in front of me and when I'm occupied with something I tend to forget other things of importance, like keeping in contact with people.( Skip to the end for liveshow reportsCollapse )
So yeah, I went to Kyoto finally. What's that, 3 or 4 years later than planned? I remember our trip to Tokyo, saying in the last half-week we'd take a shinkansen to Kyoto and we never did. But, I finally went. Still not rode a shinkansen yet though. :(( Kinki DaysCollapse )